I sheepishly admit I haven’t quite figured out this book yet; but I am incredibly drawn to it. It is achingly beautiful, incredibly empowering, and highly intriguing. Check out the epic journey in The Impossible Mountain by David Soman, 2021.
The story is about a young girl named Anna and her little brother Finn who are growing up in a village surrounded by a high wall. They have been told repeatedly by villagers that the wall keeps them safe, but they always wonder what’s on the other side.
They do their best to explore the world inside the wall, but they find it small. So one day, they climb the wall and get a view of the village they’ve never seen before.
And when they turn around, they see the most epic of views – a gigantic mountain. The view stayed with them for days and Anna became determined that she and Finn had to climb that mountain – they had to see the world!
The villagers tried to talk them out of it, tried to scare them off the idea; but finally they prepared and set out. They traveled over interesting terrain, sometimes with a path, sometimes not.
They saw amazing things like falls and skipping stones, and they ran into wolves and even a mountain goat.
It was difficult and often confusing, but they continued on together. At the scariest moment, they even encountered the Great and Terrible Bear they had heard about. Their teamwork and determination kept them on course, pursuing the top of the mountain and a chance to see the world.
Like I said in the opening, I’m still figuring out this book. It reads like a simplified epic in some ways, like a classical hero on an important journey with many lessons. But the text is fairly light and it doesn’t spell out what exactly they are supposed to be learning or why exactly they are taking this on. It’s very intriguing. Scary things happen, but never too intense. Even the giant bear is quite surprising. I’m honestly not sure if I would like this book if it weren’t for the incredible illustrations, but that is also a fairly excellent picture book accomplishment too. I continue to return to it, experiencing the highs and lows with Anna and Finn and wondering at what they uncover and how it changes them.
As noted, the illustrations are just stunning. Soman’s paintings are marvelous, but they also aren’t just paintings. They are full of story and very illustrative. I marvel at his use of color, and I am even curious about it – like the children’s purple hair! I love the lack of detail, but also the fullness of the painting details. So exquisitely done. They really are breathtaking paintings.
I hope you’ll pick this one up and let me know what you think. I love that I close it with more questions than answers. Take a journey to the top of The Impossible Mountain and see where it leads you.